struggle and the tension — 5 Comments

  1. This might sound rather simplistic but first realize that for many, the tension and struggle that accompanies stuttering is actually not the primary stutter itself, but is actually the body/mind trying so hard to NOT STUTTER. So, we find that the act of letting yourself stutter reduces the struggle very dramatically for many people (this takes many forms- you can use voluntary stuttering, self-disclosure where you tell people that you stutter and may need some extra time, or just stuttering openly/letting it out). Secondary tension becomes a sort of muscle memorized pattern that occurs quite habitually and automatically. You can undo some of that pattern by actually playing around with modifying the secondaries- So, if you , for example, put your head back and break eye contact when blocking, you can make a point to keep your head forward and keep deliberate eye contact in a block instead.

  2. I agree with Heather that the tension and struggle follow the primary issue of stuttering. I think it’s best to work on stuttering from a multidimensional view. As Sheehan noted, working on fixing only the top of the iceberg (only what is seen and heard) ignores the biggest part of stuttering/the iceberg which is hidden under the waterline. The underlying thoughts and feelings about stuttering need to be explored and settled and the top will diminish. The tension subsides when all aspects of stuttering are addressed. A good therapist, a good support group and a core belief that you can improve are essential elements. You can accept who you are today, love your uniqueness, “be memorable” as Pamela Mertz said in her video and, at the same time, work on areas you want to modify. We are all on a journey and the scenery changes. We can love ourselves each step of the way and embrace the journey.

  3. You ask a wonderful, and classic question, Ari, about how to reduce tension when stuttering. I agree with Nancy and Heather (who both provide wonderful answers). I just wanted to add that the more we try and think of speaking as an observer (self as a context), and more freedom we allow our mind to focus on something other than every sound and word we want to say. Just like Heather touched on, our mind and body are connected. If we think and feel confident, that confidences comes through in many ways, including speech, which most of time can translate to decreased tension. Are we saying “Tension free”?, maybe not. But growth takes time. So, the more we work on it, the more we benefit in many ways. The practice of meditation is another way to reduced mental and physical tension. Breathing is a natural physical relaxer. This is not a cure, but a way to get in touch with mind and body. Just thoughts…Thanks for asking questions and being an advocate, Ari! With compassion and kindness, Scott

  4. Hi Ari,
    I will add to the wonderful responses you have gotten so far…
    Sometimes the tension is increased when you try to “control: the disfluency: You might try to push through it, modify it (use a strategy), or hold back (trying not to show severe struggle) while at the same time trying to move forward. These efforts to stutter better, or in some cases, escape from the moment of stuttering, can be motivated by fear of showing struggle, and you actually make it worse. A helpful cognitive message for some PWS is to give yourself permission to show the worst, as we say sometimes, “show the ugly stuttering” that you are trying to hide. Let go of the self-protective efforts to make it less struggled. This is one of those paradoxical assignments that should be done in low-feared situations, where you plan the assignment, and feel safe doing the thing you fear. Giving yourself permission to struggle will lead to less struggle over time.
    Hope this helps,